Hearing loss problems aren’t always solved by turning up the volume. Think about this: Lots of people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others without any problem.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by issues with the delicate hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs move when they sense sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. These little hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the ordinary aging process is often the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health problems, and take certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be because of too much earwax buildup or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In many cases, you may be able to manage the underlying condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You may hear a bit better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively deal with your hearing loss issues. Specific sounds, including consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. This may cause someone with hearing loss to the mistaken conclusion that those around them are mumbling when in fact, they’re speaking clearly.
When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants typically makes them difficult to make out. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person talks.
How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing Aids go in your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental noise you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.